While I was hunting around in the nether regions the other day for the Virtual Twinning thread I was sidetracked by a thread back in 2005 called Sweet Memories which all about rare delights which have, mostly, now disappeared off the sweetie counters of the world. I know that it is meant to be smells like creosote which transport you back in time, but just the thought of a parma violet does it for me.
Ecm started the thread off by reminiscing about Queenie’s sweet shop in Royal Park Terrace. In my case it was Molly Hood’s. This was a little wooden shop half way down Bath Street, which had been built on to the front of one of the villas. It was one of the really old fashioned sweet shops, with big glass bottle of goodies stacked up to the ceiling.
This was still when we had post-war rationing and the sweets you could buy were restricted by the number of points in your ration book. For some reason, while most sweets required two points, Spangles only required one, so it was mostly Spangles that we bought.
Spangles were basically boiled sweets which came in a paper tube with the individual sweets wrapped in cellophane. In shape they were a rounded square with a circular depression on each face. To begin with they were fruit flavoured: strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, pineapple, lemon and lime, but by the late 50s they had introduced acid drop, barley sugar, liquorice, peppermint, spearmint and tangerine as well. At one point a mystery flavour was released where the wrappers had question marks on them and you were invited to guess the flavour.I never knew anyone who managed to guess the flavour and a quick google suggests that it was never officially revealed. (The cynic in me suggests that it was the scrapings of all the other flavours boiled up together). For some inexplicable reason Spangles were discontinued in the early eighties. Obviously there are plenty of people like me who are nostalgic about them because in 2008 they topped a poll of the discontinued brands which British consumers would most like to see revived.
In the thread people started listing the sweeties who did it for them: Sport Mixtures, MB Bars, Apple Stroodles, Space Dust, Gob Stoppers, Lucky Tatties, Sherbet Dabs, Soor Plooms, Jubilees, Curly Wurlys and Texas Bars. (I used to like the advert for Texas Bars. It featured this cowboy who had been captured by mexican bandits wearing big sombreros. One of the bandits asks the cowboy, "A last request gringo?" The cowboy asks for a Texan bar and it takes him so long to eat it that the baddies fall asleep and he escapes!)
Nobody mentioned my own favourite, the Penny Whopper. If you`re not familiar with Penny Whoppers, they were bars consisting of a soft chocolatey fudge-like substance.
However, Bellybabe had posted a link through to a site called aquarterof.co.uk, which specialises in hard to find sweets. So I called it up and there they were, at £3 17p for five. I haven’t bothered to work out the inflation rate, but they certainly can’t call them penny whoppers anymore, so now they are called Chelsea Whoppers. As the site said: “This was one of the hardest sweets to track down so far. But we did it.” and I’m glad they did.
Apart from purchasing my first Penny Whoppers for over fifty years, I’m also tempted by the 1960s Decade Box - “Sweets from the Swinging 60s! - What on earth do you get that 60s child who`s got everything? Well ponder no more, because this is the most stunningly original gift they could ever hope for! We`ve been doing masses of research, and have put together this fabulous 1960s Decade Box - an enormous wooden chest filled to the brim with the most popular sweets from the Swinging 60s - if this doesn’t bring a nostalgic tear to their eyes, nothing will!”
Inside it’s got: Strawberry Bonbons, Sweet Tobacco, Fruit Gums, Brown Gems, Jelly Babies, Golf Ball Bubblegum, Rhubarb & Custard, Kola Kubes, Lemonade Fizzballs, Drumsticks, Flying Saucers, White Chocolate Fish & Chips, Super Candy Whistles, Coconut Mushrooms and .............. Parma Violets!
I have nothing to say and I'm going to say it.